Firefighters from all over northeastern Oklahoma saved a small town from completely being burned to the ground Thursday night. The fire threatened to destroy a large portion of the buildings along Fairfax's main street. Fire departments from as far as sixty miles away came to help contain the blaze. Residents say the visiting firefighters saved the day.
Flames smothered and destroyed the Palace grocery store shortly after the fire started in an abandoned building next door. Investigators suspect arson. Police say the abandoned building didn't have gas or electric service. Someone saw a car in the right before there was a small explosion.
Firefighters say the fire would have spread to the whole downtown block if some 100 firefighters from 20 different communities hadn't come to the rescue. Bartlesville, Dewey and Skiatook fire departments even responded to the call. It's unreal that they came from where they did. People came from every where," said Terry Dooley, Fairfax fire chief.
Barney Moore credits the firefighters and a north wind for saving his family's hardware store just two doors north of the grocery store. "It's remarkable. It shows the spirit that we brag about here in Oklahoma and rural America," said Moore.
People in the town of 1500 say their spirit will help the grocery store owner make it through his ordeals. Besides losing his store, his wife died three weeks ago. " The people in town will rally around him. He knows they are there for him," Moore said.
And folks say they will rally around each other because they've lost the only grocery store in town. The nearest one is now twenty minutes away.